Collect data, find areas that need improvement, then develop a plan to address those issues — that seems like a logical way to help improve the Airman experience.
The process would be incomplete, however, if one simply stopped there. The finest plans quickly lose significance once they’re slipped inside a drawer, and that’s a risk Jena Bienia, Schriever Community Support Coordinator and members of Schriever’s Integrated Delivery System want to avoid.
That’s why they developed a program called Leadership Immersion.
The program, which will be presented for the first time Dec. 10, is designed to help 50th Space Wing squadron commanders, group superintendents and first sergeants gain familiarity and understanding with the Schriever helping agencies that make up the IDS.
“From a helping-agency standpoint, you can’t just pop in on a unit,” Bienia said. “That doesn’t work. You have to build trust among its commanders and leaders. Leadership Immersion is one way we accomplish that.”
But, to fully understand Leadership Immersion at Schriever, we must first understand how it came about.
Back in the fall of 2013, the Air Force conducted its biannual Climate Assessment Survey on base. Airmen and spouses relayed their thoughts on a number of social-support topics. The data was collected and analyzed, then reported back to installation leadership and the IDS. From there, the community support coordinator and members of the IDS analyzed the report and used it to develop a community action plan.
The 2013 Climate Assessment Survey revealed that Schriever Airmen and their spouses wanted to feel a better connection to their Air Force community.
“When members are connected to friends in their unit, looked after by their wingmen and supported by leaders, the unit will function at a higher level and there will be fewer disciplinary actions and less destructive behaviors,” Bienia said. “So the members of Schriever’s Integrated Delivery System and I decided to concentrate our efforts on building community unity.”
Bienia and the IDS spent several months developing the Community Action Plan and Leadership Immersion is, in essence, the first implementation of that plan.
“This is not a death-by-power-point presentation,” said Kitty Beaudoin, Schriever Airman and Family Readiness Center director. “It’s designed to make sure the leadership team in each unit knows all about the helping agencies available on the installation.”
Beaudoin was careful to explain that the program is not merely a meet-and-greet, but a forum for discussion where leaders can relay their unit’s issues and concerns.
“We kind of put faces to faces and numbers and names together to say we are part of your team and whatever you need us to do to enhance unity in your unit or provide counseling, we can do that,” she said. “Commanders and first sergeants already understand what we do, but we like to inform them about all of the services that we can provide. For example, in the A&FRC case, many leaders are unaware that we provide team-building services, personality and temperament tests and other types of services that help communication and teamwork.”
Going forward, Bienia said the process of implementing the Community Action Plan is ongoing and adaptable, depending on leadership needs and desires.
“Ultimately, the IDS team is dedicated to supporting Airmen and their families,” Bienia said. “We can do that in part by providing unit leaders with better tools which in turn we hope spills out to the Schriever community.”